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Monday, December 11, 2023

Lina Allemano - Canons (Lumo Records, 2023)

By Sammy Stein

Lina Allemano is a Canadian trumpeter, composer, improviser, and bandleader with an international career primarily in improvised, jazz, and experimental settings. She splits her time between Berlin and Toronto and is recognized as one of the leading innovative trumpeters on the scene today. As well as collaborating with important international artists, she leads five groundbreaking projects and runs her artist-run label Lumo Records. ‘Canons’ is the second 2023 release form Allemano, and follows Pipe Dream, the release by Allemano’s quartet, the Lina Allemano Four, in May.

Canons (For Trumpet and Creative Chamber Ensembles) features Allemano performing nine original pieces, both composed and improvised, with five different creative chamber ensembles. This special-edition release coincides with Lumo Records' 20 th anniversary.

Of the recording, Allemano says, “I started writing canons as a fun and challenging compositional game of sorts. Five of the pieces here (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8) are written for trumpet and various unusual chamber ensembles in either 2, 3, or 4-part canon, all incorporating improvised sections alongside composed material. Each piece employs aspects of the canon form as a common thread, including the improvised pieces by trumpet/electronics duo Bloop.”

Allemano is respected by musicians, as becomes clear whenever mention of her name occurs. From the opening track, the music is lively and powerful and the canon, in terms of counterpoint-based music-making, could hardly be more explored. Lead and follower voices/voice creating the canons intertwine and bounce off each other in tracks such as the opener ‘3 Trumpet Canon’, including some pure air column versions of the melody.

Across the tracks, there are many techniques employed, including flutter tongue with its wonderful, growly tones, and close harmonies, such as on ‘Shadows’ (track 3). There is a link between different styles and genres. On ‘Bobby’s Canon’ the bowed ‘cello leads the ensemble as the trumpet and clarinet repeat the time patterns and phrases. By the end of this track, there is a certain glorious disassembly of cohesion as the individual musicians take their own diverse pathways – something that makes it at once glorious and beautiful - before the repeated harmonic descents restore order and a different kind of beauty.

There is much to recommend to the listener on this album, from the effects and coalescence of sound on ‘Shadows’ to the playful light-hearted steps of ‘Butterscones’ sandwiching an ethereal middle section, with the guitar and double bass adding their plucked tones, or the round-like canons of ‘Wilds’.

Twinkle Toes’ is the freely improvised track of the album and captures the outstanding contributions of the ensemble of double bass, trumpet, synth, and guitar as they improvise and then come together in a classically arranged section, the switch heralded by trumpet melody, which the others chime and echo.

The recording is a deep exploration of canons in many forms and formats but remains true to the concept of a melody, and imitations of that melody forming the essence of each piece. The musicians transform the melodies sometimes – and in some places, the original is apparently ‘lost’ briefly, before being retrieved by a musical diversion, having been never really lost to the player, but they know what they are doing and have the wherewithal to achieve their aims.

This is a glorious album, well crafted, and exploring one essence of music-making proves an intriguing and expansive concept.


Lina Allemano, trumpet
Peggy Lee, cello (track 2)
Brodie West, clarinet (track 2)
Mike Smith, live-processing / effects (tracks 3, 5, 7, 9)
Rob Clutton, double bass (tracks 4, 6)
Ryan Driver, analog synth (tracks 4, 6)
Tim Posgate, guitar (tracks 4, 6)
Matthias Müller, trombone (track 8)